Narimanov’s Letter to Lenin in Support of the Turkish Expansion into Armenia

Narimanov’s Letter to LeninIn the early 20th century, the Turks managed to snatch a territory of Armenia, at the same time assuring the Bolsheviks in perpetual friendship and loyalty. Upon unlawfully receiving the lands of Armenia, the Turks turned towards the Entente Powers with the same assurances.

The Turks thus adopted an antagonistic policy against the Bolsheviks. However, the latter didn’t attempt to return the Armenian territories and carried on their policy towards Armenians, which eventually resulted in pogroms in Baku, Sumgait, and other cities and villages of Azerbaijan, and ultimately ended in the Operation Ring and the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

This letter was written shortly before the Turks turned away from the Bolsheviks.

Letter of the chairman of the Azerbaijani revkom Narimanov to Lenin in support of the territorial expansion of the Turks into Armenia and with a call to give up the position of G. Chicherin in regards to the Armenian question in favor of entering an intimate agreement with the Kemalists

February 16, 1921

Dear Vladimir Ilyich,

A Turkish delegation headed by Beibut Shakhtakhtinsky is on its way to Moscow. I had a rather in-depth conversation with the Turkish delegation. I have no doubts that the Angorians* sincerely wish to connect their fates with us against England. The most troubling question for them is the Armenian question, and they demonstrated maximum readiness to resolve it in their favor.

They are undoubtedly against the Entente; they are ready to fight together with us against England until the very last man, but if Moscow repels them because of the Armenian** question, they may turn towards England. What could happen then?

<…> I have to warn you: comrade Chicherin is confusing the eastern question, he gets too engaged into the Armenian question*** and doesn’t account for everything that could happen in case we break up with the Angorians because of it. I categorically assert that if we want to keep Azerbaijan close, we need to enter a strong agreement with the Angorians no matter what****. <…>

  1. Narimanov

The letter contains notes and remarks:

  1. “C. Stalin! I beg two words of comment to resend to all members of the Central Committee (secretly) with a request to read, to mark beneath that they read, and to send back to me. 19/II. Lenin.”
  2. By Lenin: “To other members of the CK [Central Committee].”
  3. Unknown handwriting: “Narimanov”, “Turkey”.
  4. “Sending back, N. K[restinsky].”
  5. “Read, K[restinsky].”
  6. “L. Serebr[yakov] 22.II.21.”
  7. “Read. G. Zinov’[yev].”
  8. “22/II. Radek.”
  9. “A. I. Rykov.”
  10. “M. Kalinin.”
  11. “I consider that Narimanov is ¾ right in his characterization of the periphery. L. Kamenev.”
  12. “Read. N. Bukharin. If I am not mistaken, this delegation is already here and cannot achieve to be admitted by anyone. Someone from the CK told me that they had passed. The question needs to be discussed in the CK on Thursday. N. B[ukharin].”

*The word was encircled by Lenin.
**Underlined by Lenin.
***The actual paragraph was surrounded by four lines on the margins by Lenin.
****Underlined by Narimanov.

 Source: Барсегов Ю.Г. Нагорный Карабах Document 652, page 612

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